MSU Sweeps Ole Miss to Keep its SEC Hopes Alive.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State scored 10 runs in the first two innings Saturday and cruised to a 14-5 win over Mississippi and a sweep of the Saturday doubleheader at Dudy Noble Field. The win clinches the weekend series for the Bulldogs (32-22-1, 13-15) and keeps MSU's hopes alive for a 16th straight berth in the SEC Baseball Tournament May 22-26 in Hoover, Ala.

State rode the complete-game pitching of Paul Maholm to a 12-2 win in Saturday's opening game. The win snapped a seven-game SEC losing skid for MSU.

"It has been many times this year where we have scored double digit runs and then the next day scored one or two," said MSU outfielder/third baseman Steve Gendron. "It was a little different today because everybody was still in the lineup and we were still hot from the game before."

Maholm (9-3), after giving up a pair of third inning runs, blanked the Rebels over the final six frames to earn the win. He scattered six hits, struck out four and walked two in his fifth route-going performance of the season.

"Paul threw good," said MSU outfielder Jon Mungle. "He did what he normally does. He pretty much dominates when he does his job. I think he was a little shaky at first but after he got settled, he was cruising through."

The Bulldogs bunched their scoring in two consecutive innings, plating seven in the fifth off UM starter Pete Montrenes (9-6) and five more in the sixth against relief pitcher Al Simontis.

"I think (the seven-run inning) was the biggest turning point of the game," said Mungle. "After that, (the hitting) was contagious."

Steve Gendron went 3-for-5 and drove in three Bulldogs runs, two on a single in the fifth and another on a hit up the middle in the sixth.

Montrenes, after checking MSU on a walk and two singles through four innings, ran into problems in the fifth. Jason Burkley opened the inning with a single to left, and with one out Montrenes walked the next three batters. Chad Henry's single to right tied the game and Gendron's second hit of the game plated two runs to give the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead. Jon Mungle and Brent Lewis delivered two-out RBI hits and another run scored on a UM fielding error at third base.

"Montrenes has two different curveballs," said Gendron. "He has one that is really slow. He kept throwing that to me all game. When I went up there, I told myself that I'm going to sit on his curveball. The first pitch he threw it and I poked it through the hole."

Matthew Brinson lashed a two-run double to open a five-run burst by State in the fifth.

Robby Goodson extended his career-best hitting streak to six games with a pair of singles. Eight of MSU's nine starters hit safely, including two by Henry, one of eight Bulldog seniors saluted prior to the start of the Saturday doubleheader.

Senior right-handed pitcher Tanner Brock commented on senior day. "It has been a long ride for the seniors. I have come in contact with so many awesome people. It was just really emotional. Whenever the season does end, I am really going to miss some folks."

In the nightcap, the Bulldogs got seven strong innings from starting pitcher Tanner Brock (7-4), who held the Rebels to four runs on nine hits, walked two and struck out four.

"I thought that Paul and I did a pretty good job of keeping them off-balance and throwing quality pitches," said Brock. "I was throwing fastballs, changes and a few sliders. I thought I really threw the changeup well today."

"Tanner did a real good job," said Gendron. "He had good stuff. It looked like he had a lot of movement on his fastball."

But it was the Mississippi State offense that stepped up in the nightcap. MSU piled up 14 hits, including three-hit plate performances by freshman left fielder Jon Mungle and senior center fielder Casey Long.

"The coaches did a good job of letting us know what each pitcher threw," said Mungle. "I think we prepared pretty good for them."

The Bulldogs scored three runs in the first off UM starter Alan Horne (5-2) on a sacrifice fly, a fielding error in the outfield and an RBI single to right by catcher Jason Burkley. Horne left the game after walking the first three batters he faced in the second.

"He was throwing hard," said Mungle. "He threw one or two that were up there (92 mph), but his curve ball wasn't very good. I think he was discouraged after the first batter."

Relief pitcher Adam Yates couldn't finish the inning, retiring Matthew Brinson on an RBI groundout and then giving up run-scoring hits by Steve Gendron and Mungle, a sacrifice fly by Brent Lewis and a two-run double by Robby Goodson.

"I hit a fastball in," said Goodson when asked what he hit. "It got in on me a little bit. I just got the barrel on it."

Mississippi cut into the 10-0 Bulldog lead with a pair of runs in the third and another in the fourth. But State matched the UM burst with a three-run, four-hit fourth when four of the first five Bulldogs to bat in the inning reached on singles.

Like in the first game of the doubleheader, eight of MSU's nine starters hit safely in the nightcap, and Brinson, Lewis and Goodson drove in two runs each. Goodson, who is hitting .362, now has 23 RBIs on 25 hits.

"I enjoy it a lot," said Goodson when asked about coming up in clutch situations. "It seems like everytime I get up there I have somebody on second or third. I just try to put the ball in play and drive them in."

Brian Owens replaced Brock in the eighth inning and allowed one unearned run and one hit in the final two frames.

Shortstop Chad Sterbens went 3-for-4 and drove in a run and first baseman Clint Farrar went 2-for-3 to lead UM at the plate.

Ole Miss has now lost 9 of its last 11 SEC games.

"I'm sure they are a little down now," said MSU first baseman Matthew Brinson. "They are right where we were last week when we had just gotten swept (for the second straight week). We know exactly how they feel. I know they will give us a great game tomorrow because if they don't win tomorrow, they don't get into the SEC Tournament either."

The teams conclude the series and their 2002 regular season schedules in an important Sunday matchup. Either team could clinch a berth in the SEC Baseball Tournament with a win and both would advance to postseason play with an Auburn win over Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Sunday afternoon. Auburn became the sixth team to clinch an SEC Tournament berth, scoring four runs in the 10th inning for a 7-3 win Saturday night at Arkansas.

"I think everybody is going to be pumped up like we were today, but it's going to be tough," said Mungle. "Ole Miss will be ready to play. Sweeping is hard to do. We are just going to have to do what we did today."

Brock also commented on the importance of Sunday's game. "It is not complete, yet. We have to come out tomorrow and not rely on anyone else to take care of business for us. We have to come out and do it ourselves."

UM 002 000 000 - 2-6-2
MSU 000 075 00x - 12-12-2
WP - Paul Maholm (9-3). LP - Pete Montrenes (8-6). T: 2:40.

UM 002 101 010 - 5-10-3
MSU 370 300 01x - 14-14-3
WP - Tanner Brock (7-4). LP - Alan Horne (5-2). T - 3:04. ATT - 7276 (paid), 5199 (actual).


Talking about the play of his team during the doubleheader - "Our kids played well. We pitched well with a lead. We had a very fortunate 4th or 5th inning in game one where we had some walks and Montrenes was unusually wild. We got a couple of seeing-eye hits. If those are caught, we may have not gotten seven runs."

Talking about the overall hitting performance of his team - "I thought we swung the bats pretty good. We had some well hit balls. I keep telling folks all the years that I have coached, hitting is contagious."

Pitching situation for both clubs Sunday - "It is a big advantage that we only had to use three pitchers. We still haven't used Papelbon. We have some other fresh arms. Of course, they have Beam. And Pickens has thrown very well for them this year. They could even come back with Horne, maybe."

About the Ole Miss staff being primarily right-handed - "Thankfully, Ole Miss is not a left-handed pitching staff. I just don't have enough depth to mix and match. If they bring in a left-hander and I pinch-hit one or two guys and they bring a right-hander back in I'm depleted."

Talking about the Auburn and Arkansas game Sunday - "Tomorrow is another day. We can't count on anybody helping us in Fayetteville. We have to just take care of our business."

Talking about Ole Miss - "Ole Miss is a great ballclub. They have proved it. They have won 37 games this year. That is a lot of (wins)."

Who will start for the Bulldogs tomorrow - "It is TBA right now. I don't want anybody to get ready for who we are going to start."

The game of baseball - "Baseball is a funny game. Ole Miss will tell you it is a humbling game. Alabama goes to LSU on a roll and they lost two. It is going to happen. There is no magic formula in this game."

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is You can contact him by emailing

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